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The Tablet's take on marriage

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The Tablet, the Catholic weekly from London, has this to say about the U.S. bishops' draft pastoral letter on marriage:

The United States bishops are shortly to consider a highly conservative draft statement on marriage that appears to wish contraceptives could be un-invented. The model of family life the document seems to promote would be anathema to most women, including Catholics, for it would force them back into domesticity while men pursued their careers and earned the family’s bread. It is to be hoped that the bishops arrive at a diagnosis that is a little more realistic, and perhaps a little less male-orientated.


The Tablet
's editorial is titled "The problem with men," and the quote above is just a tiny part of the editorial's message about marriage and modern relationships. Read the full piece.

African bishop on Islam, oil , and why selling the Vatican is a stupid idea

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Rome -- Earlier this week, I interviewed Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta, the lone American member of the Oct. 4-25 Synod for Africa, and asked him how many of the African bishops he already knew. He ticked off several, beginning with Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria -- but at that point Gregory stopped himself, saying, “I guess that doesn’t really count, because everybody knows Onaiyekan!”

tMade a bishop at the tender age of 38, and now in full stride at 65, Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan is Africa’s superstar prelate, known around the world as the voice of his continent.

Freedom and teenagers

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It must be because last night I attended my first parent-teacher conference as a parent of a high school, that I felt drawn to this essay by Christopher L. Doyle on the Education Week Web site: Growing Up Scripted: And Losing Freedom Along the Way.

I propose a brief experiment in citizenship: Find a teenager and ask her if she thinks she will grow up to lead a free life. The results might give you pause. When I asked this of my upper-middle-class high school students recently, nearly every one of these 11th and 12th graders said "no."

The problem is that adolescents imagine adulthood as an extension of their own experience, and most see themselves as overworked, overregulated, and overstressed. They have a point. …

No faith-based hiring with tax dollars

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My fellow NCR Today blogger Michael Sean Winters argues that faith-based institutions should be able to show preference for people of their own faith in hiring. But he omitted one very crucial phrase: "with public money."

What The New York Times editorial (with which he disagrees) was discussing was not hiring in general, but hiring people for social service programs funded by public tax dollars under the Faith-based and Community Partnerships Program. These dollars cannot be used for anything that proselytizes, or promotes a religion anyway, or the whole program would run afoul of the First Amendment.

So, if one is hiring a drug counselor, or someone to run a soup kitchen or a job-training office, it’s a neutral job -- religiously speaking -- and there is no reason to discriminate on the basis of religion. In fact, since such salaries are paid with tax dollars, there is every reason not to discriminate.

Interracial couple denied marriage license

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A white Louisiana justice of the peace refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple, saying, "I just don't believe in mixing the races that way." Justice Keith Bardwell insists he is not a racist. "I have piles and piles of black friends," he told the Associated Press.

This happened last week. In 2009. No joke. To those who think racism is a thing of the past, think again.

Maybe refusing to marry gays and lesbians will look as ridiculous in a few decades.

Civil unions, Yes; Same-sex marriage, No

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"A clear majority of Americans (57 percent) favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to enter into .... civil unions," says new research from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. "This finding marks a slight uptick in support for civil unions and appears to continue a significant long-term trend since the question was first asked in Pew Research Center surveys in 2003, when support for civil unions stood at 45 percent."

But the report continues:

"At the same time, opponents of same-sex marriage continue to outnumber supporters overall. ... 53 percent oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, compared with 39 percent who support same-sex marriage, numbers that are virtually unchanged over the past year."

Catholics and same-sex marriage
The Pew Forum says Catholics overall are evenly divided on same-sex marriage, with 45 percent favoring same-sex marriage and 43 percent opposing it. But among Catholics who attend Mass weekly, 30 percent favor gay marriage and 59 percent oppose it.

Catholics and civil unions

Students use Facebook to protest teacher's ouster

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After a popular teacher was abruptly pulled from the classroom, students at Chicago's Brother Rice High School organized a sit-in. But when that '60s-era protest method was scuttled by school officials, the students turned to Facebook.

Christian Brother Patrick B. Martin, a popular math teacher at Brother Rice, was transferred in late September, according Brother Rice president Brother Karl Walczak. "Nothing illegal has taken place," he told the Southtown Star.

Calling the reassignment a personnel matter, the school has remained close-lipped. But that hasn't stopped students from talking--primarily on the Internet.

Facebook groups like "Bring Back Bro. Martin" (almost 700 members) and "We want Bro. Martin" (450 members) are filled with posts by current students and alumni from all over the country praising the inspirational teacher and speculating about why he left, including rumors of possible health problems.

Proving once again that social media give a voice to people that those in power would rather keep quiet.

The NYTimes is Wrong on Faith-Based Hiring

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The New York Times editorialized yesterday against allowing faith-based organizations to discriminate in hiring, urging President Obama to rescind a prior rule by the Bush administration that held such discrimination was permissible. There is a case to be made that the Bush regulations were overbroad, but the Times is wrong to argue that faith-based institutions should not be able to consider an applicant’s religion in hiring.

Like negotiating with North Korea

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It must be like negotiating with North Korea. The Vatican announced today it would begin a long-awaited dialogue with leaders of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X.

Just days before, the head of the traditionalist society, Bishop Bernard Fellay, reiterated a list of objections to the Second Vatican Council and said he hoped the dialogue would help dispel "errors" in the church.

Meanwhile, also today the German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur is reporting that Bishop Richard Williamson, who with Fellay was among four Society of St. Pius X bishops whose excommunications Pope Benedict lifted in January, faces a summary fine in Germany for claiming that the Nazis had no Holocaust gas chambers.

German prosecutors had put Fellay's case before a judge Oct. 14. In Germany, denying the Holocaust is a hate crime.

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